Community rallies behind college students


MIDDLEBURY COLLEGE EMPLOYEES, like this one walking past Davis Family Library Wednesday, have been told that work will proceed as usual, despite the fact that in-person classes have been suspended until further notice. Independent photo/John S. McCright

MIDDLEBURY — On Tuesday, not long after Middlebury College announced that in response to the growing threat from COVID-19 it would suspend in-person classes until further notice (see story), senior Leif Taranta posted a spreadsheet online, soliciting community assistance and encouraging students to help their fellow students.

“Middlebury College is closing down for a few weeks very suddenly as a disease prevention effort, and a lot of students (especially students of more marginalized backgrounds) are in very frantic situations trying to find places to go/rides/food etc.,” Taranta wrote in an accompanying Facebook post.

“We made this mutual aid spreadsheet where people can offer support, and we’d really appreciate help from anyone in the Middlebury area, or people who drive and are able to take folks to the airport, etc.”

Over the next 24 hours, line-by-line, tab-by-tab, members of the local and extended college community showed up with the following help:

• housing for students, local and up and down the east coast.

• rides to cities as far away as Atlanta — or anywhere along the way.

• space to store personal belongs.

• offers to take care of plants and pets.

• donations of nitrile gloves, paper masks, disinfectant wipes and tissues.

• snacks and meals. One person offered to bake cakes for students remaining in Middlebury whose birthdays are coming up.

• clergy, families and others offered emotional and spiritual support, including offers of pets for “fur therapy.”

The spreadsheet also contains running updates with information for students.

Most Middlebury students will be required to leave campus by 8 p.m. on Friday, March 13.

Community members interested in offering help or making donations can do so by clicking here.

Organizers are asking that needs requests expressed in the online document are made in trust that people won’t spread the names attached to them beyond the document. Organizers are trying to protect privacy while helping people get the word out as much as possible.

Reach Christopher Ross at christopherr@addisonindependent.com.

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Addison County Independent